The artists in Speak each extend and update Latham’s radical world view with their own sense of urgency. The Sackler will be a transformed space with an installation of video, light, sound and sculpture in the Powder Rooms, and, in the gallery, a bid for Cuban presidency and a composition of drawings, sound and a single live body. Each artist explores language as a medium for action, exchange and disruption. Together, they reveal how Latham’s ideas continue to resonate: from taking an unconventional approach to the reception and transference of knowledge to prioritising the role of the artist in society as an agent for change.
Tania Bruguera directly addresses political and humanitarian issues in her native Cuba through performance and long-term social engagement projects. Her interventions parallel the ambitions of the Artist Placement Group (APG), co-founded by John Latham, which positioned the artist inside industry with the potential to effect change. For this exhibition, Bruguera has made a video that builds on her recent announcement to run for presidency in Cuba.
Douglas Gordon was first introduced to John Latham in his years as a student at Glasgow School of Art (1984–8), and Latham remained an influential figure on Gordon’s work. He has responded to the architecture of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery by creating a new site-specific text installation incorporating Latham’s text works, drawing out their shared interest in the relationship between language and time. There will also be a set of sculpture games, Variatham, and a new video comprising footage from an interview with Latham dating from 1999.
Laure Prouvost takes an intuitive and bodily approach to knowledge, drawing on the everyday and domestic as events merging life and art, and exploiting the slippages of translation and language to confuse fact with fiction. Her experience working as John Latham’s assistant in the early 2000s has provided a rich and playful resource for her work. For this exhibition, she has created a multi-sensory immersive environment that combines synchronised lights and a sound narrative with sculptural objects and video.
Cally Spooner’s diverse practice includes film, audio, hired bodies, drawing, writing, and live events. She will present a constellation of sound, drawing, data and a live body; a proposal for continuous restlessness and rehearsal – a warm-up for our position as individuals facing an uncertain political future. She has written new texts Early Research Methods 9 – 10 for the exhibition catalogue, John Latham: A World View, which may also take physical form as a new work within the exhibition.
Speak takes its title from a 1962 film by John Latham, in which the artist experiments with pulsating sound and image. A series of screenings, performances, study evenings and symposia at venues across London has been programmed alongside the exhibitions Speak and A World View: John Latham.